Ranger Jim's Ramblings for May
After too long an absence, I'm back. Whether that's a good or bad thing I'll leave up to you.
I thought this time around I'd list some random facts about horses, sort of a follow up to the list I blogged some time back. Some of you may know some of these, all of them, or none of them. But they can always be worked into a western.
Most horses have manes which lie on the right side of their neck. A few have manes that lie on the left side. And very rare is the horse whose mane lies on both sides.
Hooves on the left side of the horse are called "near". Right side is called "off". Also can be used to distinguish the right of the horse from the left in general, i.e., dismounting from the right is dismounting from the off side.
Appaloosas have very thin, usually short, tails. Their manes also tend to be thin.
A blue eye is also called a glass eye. Some horses have one brown, one blue eye, others have two blue eyes. The eye color doesn't affect the horse's vision at all.
White or striped hooves are generally weaker than dark hooves. Striped hooves are frowned upon for every horse breed except Appaloosa, where striped hooves are considered normal.
The two main types of paints/pintos are Tobiano, smooth dark patches on a white haired base, and Overo (pronounced ovAHro), ragged white patches on a dark haired base. A Medicine Hat paint/pinto is a white horse with only a colored "hat" over the top of its head and its ears. Highly prized by Plains Indian tribes for their supposed spiritual powers, such as he ability to protect their riders in battle. Contrary to popular belief,while many cowboys did look down on paints/pintos, many rode them, including some Texas Rangers. Evidence to prove that can be found in old photographs.
A horse has knees on its front legs, hocks on its back legs. A horse also has no muscles below its knees/hocks,. Tee lower leg consists of bone, tendons, and ligaments. What for humans is the ankle is called the fetlock on a horse.
The soft part of the bottom of a horse's hoof is the frog. It absorbs shock, and needs regular trimming.
A horse's brain is approximately the size of a grapefruit.
All of a horse's head between its eyes and jaw is bone and air passageways.A horse can have a hole punched through the side of its head in that area and still keep breathing. It can even fully recover from the injury.
A horse's hoof is the equivalent of a human fingernail. Ancient horses had three toes on each foot. They evolved to just the middle one. That means every time a horse picks up his foot he's giving someone the "middle finger" (Sorry, couldn't resist.
Horses have the largest eyes of any land mammal. They are set high and wide, so a horse can see almost a full 360 degrees without moving its head. The only blind spot for a horse is about two or three feet, directly in front of its face. They cal also see in color, but similarly to a person with red-green color blindness. They tend to see blues and yellows better.
A horse has excellent hearing. They move their ears to pinpoint sounds, and also indicate their mood. Ears pricked sharply forward means they are listening to something ahead of them. One ear pointed in each direction indicates the horse is listening in both direction. Ears partially laid back indicates the horse is relaxed. And ears pinned flat back against the head is a threat or warning the horse is angry.
Horses use their whiskers to feel if a space is large enough for them to get through, and also to help sort out edible from non edible items.
Horses have extremely strong neck and throat muscles, so they can't vomit. That's why colic is so dangerous for a horse. If their intestines become blocked, they can't vomit up the contents.
While horses have no muscles in their lower legs, the tendons and ligaments are extremely strong, while the bones are thin and fragile compared to the weight of a horse. When a leg bone breaks, it usually shatters, and the tendons and ligaments pull the pieces so far apart it's impossible to set them back together. Almost always a death sentence.
One last point. Without horses, arguably human civilization would never have advanced (If it indeed has) as far as it has.
Until next time, Adios.